M. Night Shyamalan
As a family, they decide to spend the summer on a remote beach. Mom says how she can’t wait to hear her daughter’s singing voice when she grows up. Later, we learn that Mom has a tumor and that this may well be her “final vacation” due to her declining health or the state of their marriage. This is particularly true when you watch your children growing up too quickly and are concerned that you may not be able to see the majority of their life’s journey. Similarly, when M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederick Peeters’ novel “Old,” based on the book by the same authors, plays thematically with similar emotions, it succeeds. Sometimes, in a disappointing conclusion, a film crosses the median line and enters the stupid lane. “Old” explores the secrets of aging with just the right amount of flair to captivate the audience before stepping back from its edge.
Guy (Gael Garca Bernal) and his family are introduced (Alexa Swinton). No less than Shyamalan himself takes them to this isolated beach, where they can get away from the tourist crowd (after all, he’s the director and gathering his cast on the sandy stage). There are other families in the area that are similar to Guy and Prisca’s clan. We meet a doctor called Charles (Rufus Sewell), as well as Charles’ wife Chrystal and mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant) (Mikaya Fisher). Jarin (Ken Leung) and Patricia, a third pair, also appear (Nikki Amuka-Bird). They encounter Mid-Sized Sedan, a mystery wanderer, as they arrive at the beach (Aaron Pierre). Why is his nose bleeding? Is it a corpse?
Because of the high stone walls around it, they immediately feel threatened by its beauty. As the day progresses, the waves smash, and the rock wall seems to increase in height. On the way back, they pass out and wake up on the beach once again. Trent and Maddox suddenly age by approximately five years in a matter of hours, which is bizarre. After a half-hour on the beach, the grownups find out that it’s like taking an entire year off of their lives! Thomasin McKenzie is one of the greatest actresses, and Alex Wolff is one of her closest friends. Is it possible for them to leave the beach before 24 hours pass and become 48 years old?
A brilliant concept. A film that Rod Serling would have adored When Shyamalan is fun and fast with his lofty idea, “Old” is very effective. ‘Old’ is not a conventional mystery. “Old” was more of a weird horror film than a thriller that required answers from me.
Each performer seems to be ready to go on a strange trip. It’s incredible how well the ensemble works together despite a screenplay that treats them like beach toys, shifting them about before they’re washed away by the waves. Sewell’s bewildered menace, McKenzie’s genuine dread, and Bernal and Krieps’ grounded center highlights.
Shyamalan and his colleagues control their tone better than he has in years. This is a feature, not a problem, since the conversation is awkward and nearly completely expositional about their situation and efforts to escape it. “Old” should have an exaggerated, surreal tone, and Shyamalan essentially achieves it with the help of his usual cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, who delivers some of his finest work to date. Perception and forced POV are continuously manipulated as the camera moves up and down the beach, as though it’s trying to keep up with everything as it happens. It’s clever to capture a character’s corner of the head and then reveal that a fresh actor is portraying them. It’s one of Shyamalan’s most aesthetically stunning films in years, and it’s at its finest when it embraces its lunacy. Almost as if they were personalities, the waves are so loud and the rock wall so intimidating.
But the picture falls apart when it decides to provide some rational explanation and connect connections that didn’t need to be linked. When “Old” is seen in its most potent form, the ending is left open-ended, so the audience may continue exploring topics after leaving the theatre. “Old’s” closing sequences are frequently the subject of discussion, and I thought them to be among of Shyamalan’s most irritating. ‘Old’ is exciting and engaging when his characters are attempting to escape the passage of time, as parents do when their children are growing up too quickly, or they get a death diagnosis.’ It’s just too bad that it doesn’t age into its potential.